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Venkatarao Ryali ,1 Kannan M. Moudgalya

Systems and Control Group

Dept. of Chemical Engineering, IIT Bombay,

Abstract: The industrial challenge polymer control problem posed by Chylla and
Haase has been solved by a variant of Quantitative Feedback Theory. This is
facilitated by a transfer function model with a set of uncertain parameters, arrived
at after simplifying and linearizing the nonlinear model. The control algorithm only
requires the reaction temperature measurement, does not involve any complicated
parameter estimation, and is structurally of low complexity. Simulation studies
with the nonlinear plant model demonstrate the efficacy of this controller.
Keywords: Robust control, Temperature control, Semibatch reactor, Emulsion
polymerization, Quantitative feedback theory

High value added specialty chemicals are often
produced in semibatch mode. Control of semibatch reactors is difficult, thanks to the unsteady
state nature of the process, complex nonlinear
behaviour and highly uncertain dynamics. Chylla
and Haase (1993b) have given details of such
a reactor as a challenge control problem. There
have been only a few solutions to this problem
(Helbig et al., 1996; Clarke-Pringle and MacGregor, 1997; Ryali and Moudgalya, 1998).
Helbig et al. (1996) and Clarke-Pringle and MacGregor (1997) have used model predictive control strategies to solve this problem. There have
been some inconsistencies in the formulation of
the problem (Chylla and Haase, 1993a; Helbig
et al., 1996) If the initial charge refers to the
polymer only, it becomes an easy problem. Ryali
and Moudgalya (1998) solve the easy problem
using a variant of Quantitative Feedback Theory.

Currently at GE research, Bangalore,

If the initial charge refers to the sum total of both

polymer and water, it becomes a difficult problem. In this work, we solve the difficult problem.
We present in detail the methodology adopted to
arrive at a transfer function model of the system along with an uncertainty description. We
also present the frequency domain requirement,
control design approach and carry out simulation
The actual system model can be transformed into
the following set of delay-differential equations.
= G1 (x, 1 , 2 ) F(x) + G2 (x, c, 1 , 2 ) (1)
Here x denotes the state vector with five components x1 to x5 . The control variable, denoted by c,
refers to the valve opening. See the Nomenclature
and Appendix A for further details. The ideal
control effort (in terms of the jacket inlet temperature) required for isothermal conditions can be
calculated by solving Eq. 1 with x3 x3d , where,
xd denotes the desired state. It has been found

Table 1. Bounds on
1min (dimensionless)
1max (dimensionless)
2min (dimensionless)
2max (dimensionless)
min (Btu/f t2 /min/o F )
max (Btu/f t2 /min/o F )
hmin (f t2 )
hmax (f t2 )

5.35 103

that the required efforts for with and without delays are about the same. Hence, we use the model,
with delays assumed zero, to design control:
= G1 (x) F(x) + G2 (x, c)
Assuming that we can get perfect control, we
replace F(x) with F(xd ):
= G1 (x) F(xd ) + G2 (x, c)
Furthermore, as the variation in F(xd )(t) with
time is slow, we replace it with a constant matrix
Ah )]T , where,
and Ah are the con = [
, U
stant replacements of (xd ), U (xd ) and Ah (xd ),
respectively. To account for the variation in the
, and
latter parameters with time, we allow
, U

Ah to take values in the intervals [

min ,
max ],
min , U
max ], and [Ahmin , Ahmax ], respectively,
such that 0.4 (xd )(t) [
min ,
max ], U (xd )(t)
min , U
max ], and Ah (xd )(t) [Ahmin , Ahmax ],
at each instant of time t, during all the batches.
These bounds are obtained as follows:
: In general, the ideal average
Bounds for U
jacket temperature Tj required to maintain the
desired isothermal state have been calculated
and found to lie, roughly, within a 10% band
about x3d . This implies that the corresponding
Twall [0.95x3d , 1.05x3d ]. Considering larger
bounds for Twall , that is allowing Twall
[0.8x3d , 1.2x3d ], to account for mild variations
min and U
max can
from the ideal behaviour, U
be computed as
min = U (fmax , (1/hf )max , (Twall = 0.8x3d ))

Kp can be written as
Kp = K p 1 K p 2


Fig. 1. Control valve characteristic: Cooling Mode

Kp1 = kv Rfv (c(t)) Tv
Kp 2 = k v R

fv (c(t))



(kvc , Tinlet , c(t)/50)

(kv , Tv , fv (c(t))) is either

(kvh , Tsteam , (c(t)/50 2)), depending on whether
the mode of control is either cooling or heating,
respectively; see Appendix A.
During both the cooling and heating modes, as
long as c(t) = 50%, the multiple (kv Rfv (c(t)) )
of x5 in Eq. 6 takes values in the interval
[2min , 2max ], where
2min = (min{kvc , kvh }) R0.98
2max = max{kvc , kvh }
Therefore, we modify Kp2 to
Kp 2 = 2 x 5


where we allow 2 to take values in the interval

[2min , 2max ], which is essentially the conic approximation (Friedland, 1996). We use this idea
in the modification of Kp1 as well. We make the
assumption that the manipulated pressure signal
Pc (t) constituting the control input c(t), lies in
the standard range [3, 15] psig. That is,
c(t) =

Pc (t) 3


With Pc (t) as the deviation from the midpoint

of the pressure range, i.e., Pc (t) = Pc (t) 9,
c(t) =

max = U (fmin , (1/hf )min , (Twall = 1.2x3d ))

Note that these values hold for both the products A and B, and for all the process parameter
values, see Table 1.
Bounds for Ah : Ahmin and Ahmax are the values of the heat transfer area at the beginning
and the end of the reaction, respectively. These
values are given in Table 1.
Bounds for
min = (fmin , x3d + 1) and

max = (fmax , x3d 1). Note that these vaules

have been computed assuming a 1o F variation about the desired reactor temperature x3d ,
which is the allowed variation in performance.

Pc (t) + 6


Fig. 1 shows the cooling mode hysteresis plot of

Pc (t)

R(c(t)/50) = R
, which is obtained as
Pc is varied between 6 psig and 0 psig. This
plot can be seen to be bound by the family of

Lc = {m


| 6 Pc 0; m [mmin , mmax ]}

where mmin = ln R(e/R), mmax = 50 R0.98 . The

lower bound for m is the slope of the line OB
tangential to the valve flow characteristic in the
opening direction. The upper bound is the slope of
the line OA passing through the points (0, 0) and
(0.02, R0.98 ), the latter of which corresponds to
the flow ratio at c = 49%. As shown in Fig. 1, this
family of lines Lc , accounts for almost any flow,

Table 2. Values for nij , dij

hysteresis effects included. That is, for the cooling

mode, Kp1 in Equation (5) may be modified to
Kp 1 =

m kvc




6 Pc (t) 0

Using similar arguments, Kp1 may be modified for

the heating mode as well, to
Kp1 = m kvh Tsteam


3.48 102
2.02 102
1.62 104


6.62 103
3.49 102
7.66 103

0 Pc (t) 6

The above two equations may be combined to give

Kp1 = 1 u(t)


where u(t) = |Pc (t)|, 1 [1min , 1max ],

1min = min{kvc Tinlet , kvh Tsteam (mmin /6),
1max = max{kvc Tinlet , kvh Tsteam } (mmax /6).
Thus, from Eq. 4,7,8, the modified expression for
Kp can be written as
Kp = 2 x5 + 1 u(t)


See Table 1 for bounds on 1 and 2 . Replacing

substituting the linear expresF(xd )(t) with F,
sion for Kp and linearizing about (xd , cd ), Eq. 3
= P(t) x + Q u(t)
y = x3
where indicates that deviation variables are
being used. Eq. 11 is the incremental output equation. The P(t) and Q matrices are defined in
Appendix A. Calculations have shown that P(t)
can be approximated as P(0). There is still a
discontinuity in the element p33 (t) at the instants
when switchover from the feed to the hold phase
and vice versa (for Product B), take place. But
since the magnitude of this discontinuity, characterized by the parameter (see the Appendix), is
small, p33 (t) can be adequately approximated by
the following value:
Ah (U A)loss
M Wm Fm Cpm U
p33 =
D(xd (0))
where the numerator is obtained as an average
of the respective values over the feed and hold
phases. This assumption helps in defining a transfer function from u to x3 , that is the same
over both the feed and hold phases and for both
products. This transfer function model denoted as
PL (s, ), is given as follows.
n1 s + n 0
PL (s, ) = 3
s + d 2 s2 + d 1 s + d 0
n0 = n01 1 U
n1 = n11 1 U
Ah + d03 U
d0 = d01 2 + d02 2 U
Ah + d14 U
d1 = d11 + d12 2 + d13 2 U
d2 = d21 + d22 2 + d23 U
The values of the parameters nij and dij are given
in Table 2. The uncertain parameters figuring

Fig. 2. Feedback Structure

in the coefficients of this transfer function are
Ah ]T . Note
lumped as the vector = [1 2 U
does not figure in any of the coefficients,
and therefore, bounds for
need not be defined.
The hyper-rectangle defined by the bounds on
will be denoted as .
We propose to design a controller C(s) that has a
single input, the deviation of the reactor temperature from the setpoint, as shown in Fig. (2). In
this diagram, the error involved by the linearization is modelled as output disturbance signal d(t).
As it is model induced, it is assumed that d(t) will
have spectral components only in the bandwidth
of the plant, PL (s, ). We require that the transfer
function between from d(t) to x3 , viz. the sensitivity transfer function
) = 1/(1 + PL (s, ) C(s))
be minimized over the frequency range in which
the spectra of d(t) are concentrated. We arrive at
the following requirement: Design a fixed, stabiliz
ing controller C(s) such that |S(j,
)| < < 1
over , . We chose = 0.891 (corresponding
to 1 dB). The design of C(s) can be iteratively
improved upon by recursively reducing . From
the transfer function of the system, we find that
= [0, 1.2] rad/min. For a detailed discussion, the
reader is referred to Ryali and Moudgalya (1998).
The transfer function in Eq. 12 can be shown to
be stable for all . It generates a band of Nyquist
plots, as is varied in . For example, the Nyquist
locus of PL (j1.2, ), , is enclosed within the
region R shown in Fig. 3. The boundary of R
is defined by the extremal phase and magnitude
values of the locus PL (j1.2, ). For brevity, regions
like R are not shown for other frequencies .
Instead, the orientation of the Nyquist band as
0 and , is shown. The FD spec
defined above requires that all such loci PL (j, ),
, lie outside the circle centred at the

point (1, 0) and of radius 1/. Any C(s) with

zero or negative phase over will destabilize
the closed-loop system while trying to meet the
sensitivity magnitude requirement. Thus, C(s)
should exhibit phase lead at least over . A
candidate lead controller is the following

with K, a variable. The pole-zero locations have

been chosen arbitrarily with the only requirement
being that their geometric mean be 1.62 rad/min
so that the maximum phase lead can be provided
at this frequency. This helps in choosing a relatively smaller value for K to satisfy the sensitivity
magnitude requirement. The minimum value of K
that satisfies the given FD spec is slightly less than
19. The problem of noise associated with high
frequency components is mitigated by adding faroff poles, as discussed in Ryali and Moudgalya
(1998). Thus we arrive at the controller,
C(s) =

K(s + 0.1)
(0.0695s + 1)(0.001s + 1)

Fig. 4. Reaction temperature: Summer operation,

i = 1.2, 1/hf = 0.004, noiseless measurement

Fig. 3. The circle and the frequency response

locus of PL (j1.2, )

K(s + 0.1)
C1 (s) =
(0.0695s + 1)


with K = 19. It can be shown that this controller

is stabilizing. All the loop shaping computations
have been performed using software developed by
Ryali (Ryali, 1994).
The ODEs describing the closed-loop system,
which involve Eq. 1 and a state-space realization of controller C(s), have been solved using LSODE. Hysteresis is also accounted for
during the simulations. The simulations have
been performed for various values of the uncertain parameters: i [0.8, 1.2], and 1/hf
{0, 0.001, 0.002, 0.003, 0.004}, under both winter
and summer conditions.
In all the simulations, (1 , 2 ) = (1nom , 2nom ) =
(0.38, 0.25) min. Also, it is assumed that at the
beginning of the monomer feed phase (t = 0 min),

Fig. 5. Jacket inlet temperature: Summer operation, i = 1.2, 1/hf = 0.004; Solid line - actual
profile; Circles - ideal profile
the reaction temperature is at its setpoint value.
These assumptions are relaxed later.
For brevity, we show the simulation results for
product A only. Fig. 4-7 show the results of the
closed loop simulation for two extreme situations:
summer operation with i = 1.2 and 1/hf =
0.004, and winter operation with i = 0.8 and
1/hf = 0. Fig. 4, 5 correspond to the case when
there is maximum exothermicity, whereas Fig. 6,7
correspond to the minimum exothermicity case.
In both the cases, the heat transfer surface fouling
coefficient is at its maximum value. Deviations in
the reaction temperature about the setpoint are
controlled to well within the desired limit of 1o F .
The sudden stoppage of the monomer feed after
70 minutes into the reaction causes the derivative
of the reaction temperature to increase suddenly.
Since the controller has a large lead (derivative)
action, this causes a relatively sharp dip in the
jacket inlet temperature for a very short period
of time. This explains the dip in the reaction
temperature by about 0.30.4o F at around t = 70
mins. The lead action is again responsible for the
rather sluggish response, subsequently.
Using the approach of Ryali and Moudgalya
(1998), it has been found that noise effects will be
small if the power spectral density (PSD) of has
all its components concentrated in the high frequency region beyond 104 rad/min (26.5 Hz). To

Fig. 6. Reaction temperature: Winter operation,

i = 0.8, 1/hf = 0.004, noiseless measurement

Fig. 7. Jacket inlet temperature: Winter operation, i = 0.8, 1/hf = 0.004; Solid line - actual
profile; Circles - ideal profile
test this conjecture, as suggested by Astrom and
Wittenmark (1994, page 153), a high frequency
sinusoidal noise signal with amplitude 0.2o F and
frequency 2650 Hz was added to the temperature
measurement. Simulation results have confirmed
this conjecture to be true. Since temperature measurement noise is typically a high frequency signal,
it should be possible to choose a measurement
device with such noise statistics.
This controller is able to handle well 25% deviation in process delays as well.
The seriousness of the assumption of initial temperature being at the setpoint is checked now. We
would like to know whether all deviations in the
range [179 181] can be tolerated for product A.
Simulations show that the controller C(s) allows
x3 (0) to take values in the interval [179.2, 181]o F
- see Fig. 8. Since the monomer feed comes in at a
lower temperature, the reaction temperature dips
slightly below x3 (0), hence the allowable lower
bound on x3 (0) has to be at least 179.2o F .

Fig. 8. Reaction temperature: Solid line - x3 (0) =

181 deg F; Circles - x3 (0) = 179.2 deg F
involving a single-loop LTI controller and measurement of only one variable for feedback. All the
assumptions that went into the design approach
have been vindicated by the excellent performance
provided by the controller under all possible operating conditions. Additionally, this work demonstrates the ease with which FD based methods can
(a) handle realistic noise models, and (b) enable
the design of LTI controllers for tracking slowly
varying temperature trajectories, for similar batch
Performance-wise, our controller works as well
as the other solutions presented so far to this
challenge control problem. Our controller, however, has a simpler structure, needs only the reactor temperature measurement and does not need
complicated estimation techniques.


M Wm

A FD based approach for solving the temperature

regulation problem of a SBEPR has been presented. The essential slowness of the unsteady
state behaviour of the given system is exploited
to design the simplest possible control structure,


Jacket heat transfer area, f t2

Control valve setting (control input), %
Heat capacity of coolant in jacket,
Btu/lb/o F
Heat capacity of monomer, Btu/lb/o F
Heat capacity of solids, Btu/lb/o F
Heat capacity of water, Btu/lb/o F
Monomer addition rate, lbmol/min
Solids fraction
Fouling heat transfer coefficient,
Btu/hr/f t2 /o F
Impurity factor, dimensionless
Pre-exponential factor, min1
Heating/cooling process gain, o F/%
Valve constant - Cooling Mode
Valve constant - Heating Mode
Molecular weight of monomer, lb/lbmol
Mass of coolant in the jacket, lb
Circulation flow rate in the jacket,
Mass of water in the reactor, lb
Rangeability of the valve
Ambient temperature, o F
Water inlet temperature, o F
Temperature of steam, o F

Overall heat transfer coefficient,

Btu/f t2 /min/o F
U Aloss Heat loss to environment per unit temperature, Btu/min/o F
Number of moles of the monomer in the
reactor, lbmol
Mass of solids in the reactor, lb
Reactor temperature, o F
Jacket outlet temperature, o F
Jacket inlet temperature, o F
State vector, desired


Heat of polymerization, Btu/lbmol

Reaction viscosity, cP
Transport delay in jacket, min
Transport delay in recirculation loop,
Heating/cooling time constant, min

Astrom, K. J. and B. Wittenmark (1994).

Computer-Controlled Systems: Theory and
Design. second ed.. Prentice-Hall of India
Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.
Chylla, R. W. and D. R. Haase (1993a). Corrigenda. Comp. Chem. Eng. 17(12), 1213.
Chylla, R. W. and D. R. Haase (1993b). Temperature control of semibatch polymerization reactors. Comp. Chem. Eng. 17(3), 257264.
Clarke-Pringle, T. and J. F. MacGregor (1997).
Nonlinear adaptive temperature control of
multi-product, semi-batch polymerization reactors. Comp. Chem. Eng. 21, 13951409.
Friedland, B. (1996). Advanced Control System
Design. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Engelwood Cliffs.
Helbig, A., O. Abel, A. Mhamdi and W. Marquardt (1996). Analysis and nonlinear model
predictive control of the chylla-haase benchmark problem. In: Proceedings of Control.
(Presented in UKACC International Conference on Control 1996, Exeter, England, 2-5
Sept. 1996). pp. 11721177.
Ryali, V. (1994). Control system design: Tackling uncertainty with QFT. Masters thesis.
Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
Ryali, V. and K. M. Moudgalya (1998). Robust
temperature control of a semibatch polymerization reactor: Frequency domain specifications. Colloids and Surfaces. A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects 133, 6368.

G1 (1, 1) = (ik0 e x3 +460 )x1

G1 (2, 1) = (ik0 e

x3 +460

G1 (3, 1) = (ik0 e

x3 +460

)M Wm x1

)(M Wm cpm x3 M Wm cps x3

+ (Hp ))
G1 (3, 2) = ((x4 + x5 ) 2x3 )/(2D(x))

(x4 + x5 ) 2x3
2mc cpc
(x4 (t 2 ) + x5 (t 2 )) 2x3 (t 2 )
G1 (5, 2) =
2mc cpc

G1 (4, 2) =

Other elements of G are zero.

0.4 (x)
U (x)Ah (x)
G2 (1) = Fm , G2 (2) = 0
G2 (3) = (M Wm Fm cpm (Tamb 2x3 )
+ (U A)loss (Tamb x3 ))/(D(x))
G2 (4) = (x5 (t 1 ) x4 )m
c /mc
G2 (5) = (x5 (t 1 2 ) x4 (t 2 ))m
c /mc
+ ((x4 (t 2 ) x5 ) + Kp )/p
D(x) = (x1 M Wm cpm + x2 cps + mw (0)cpw )
F (x) =

with Kp in G2 (5) is given as


0 c(t) 49
kvc (R)( 50 ) (Tinlet x5 )

c(t) = 50
Kp = 0

k h (R)( c(t)

50 2) (T
steam x5 ) 51 c(t) 100

The (i, j)th element of the P(t) matrix of Eq. 10

is denoted as pij in the following:
p11 = (i
k0 )e6400/(x3d +460)

= (i
k0 )e6400/(x3d +460) x1d (t)
= M Wm p11
= M Wm p13
= p11 [M Wm (cpm cps )x3d
+ (Hp )]/D(xd (t))
Ah (U A)loss + p21 x1d (t)(cpm cps )]
p33 = [ U


/D(xd (t)) p31 x1d (t)

Ah )/(2D(xd (t)))
p34 = (U
Ah )/(2D(xd (t)))
p35 = (U
Ah )/(mc cpc )
p43 = (U
Ah )/(2mc cpc )
p44 = (2m
c cpc U
Ah )/(2mc cpc )
p45 = (2m
c cpc U
Ah )/(mc cpc )
p53 = (U
Ah p + 2mc cpc )/(2mc cpc p )
p54 = (2m
c cpc p U
Ah p 2mc cpc (1 + 2 ))
p55 = (2m
c cpc p U
/(2mc cpc p )
(x3d + 460)2
= 2Fm M Wm cpm - Over the feed phase
= 0 - Over the hold phase

Other elements of P(t) are zero. The parameter

captures the discontinuous behaviour of p33 (t)
exhibited while switching from the feed phase to
the hold phase, and vice versa. The ith element
of the Q matrix (5 1) of Eq. 10 is denoted
as qi and the individual elements are given as,
q1 = q2 = q3 = q4 = 0, q5 = 1 /p .